Skip to main content

Full text of "A story about a real man"

See other formats


-g                                                                                                            B. POLEVOI
and some mushrooms___I'll cook him some fish, and
mushroom soup-----"
"What good will fish do to him when lies got one
foot in the grave? Put him in my place, Grandad, we
have a cow, and we'll be able to give him milk!"
But Mikhail pulled the sleigh to his own dugout,
which was situated in the middle of the underground
village.
.. .Alexei remembered that he lay on a bunk in a
small, dingy cave dug in the earth, with a smoky splut-
tering rush-light stuck in the wall and shooting off sparks,
By its light he could see a table made from the planks of
a German mine crate and resting on a stump nocked into
the ground, several sawn logs around the table to serve
as stools, a slim figure in the black kerchief and old
woman's clothes bending over the table—this was
Varvara, Grandad Mikhail's youngest daughter-in-law—
and Mikhail's head with its thin, grey locks.
Alexei was lying on a striped straw mattress, still
covered with the patched sheepskin coat, which gave off
a pleasant, sourish, homelike smell.... And although his
body ached as if he had been stoned, and his feet burned
as though hot bricks had been put to them, it was pleasant
to lie motionless like this, knowing that he was safe, that
he did not have to move, or think, or be constantly on
the alert.
The smoke from the fire in the hearth in the corner of
the dugout rose to the ceiling in grey, living, intertwining
layers, and it seemed to Alexei that not only this smoke,
but the table, the silvery head of Grandad Mikhail, who
was always busy over something, and Varvara's slim
body, were also floating, swaying and dissolving. He shut
his eyes. He opened them when he was roused by a gust
of cold air from the door that was lined with sacking. A
woman was standing at the table. She had placed a bag
on the table and held her hands on it as if pondering
whether she should take it back again. She sighed and
said to Varvara:
"This is some farina I have had since before the war.
I have been saving it for my Kostyunka, but he doesn't
need anything now. Take it and cook some of it for your
lodger. It's for babies, just what he needs now."